The holidays are starting to get to the Glucocil team. Between leftover Halloween candy, Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving celebrations and now a couple of days of fried food to Hanukkah, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. When you’re watching carbohydrates to help your blood sugar, every meal during the holidays can be a multipart math problem. With that in mind, we thought it would be a good time to talk salad.
Salads are a great way to add vegetables to your diet in new ways. But not everyone likes salad. Many people think salads are boring because the basic tossed salad genuinely is boring. Lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber and a little onion, tossed with a salad dressing made of nothing but vinegar and olive oil and a few herbs isn’t exciting. It might be nice occasionally, but it’s not something to crave. However, with a little variation, salad can be your new favorite meal.
During the late fall, you can enjoy a lot of seasonal, harvest vegetables in your salad, making them a meal that works all year round. You can also turn your salad into a superfood bonanza; we love this recipe for Acai Dressing, although we would suggest replacing the sugar with a noncaloric sweetener of your choice. Recently, we wrote about people drinking apple cider vinegar and suggested that it might be of more use as an ingredient. Here’s a recipe we love for Shaved Fall Vegetable Salad with a Cider Vinaigrette that we think is perfect for the time of year. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to improve your salad without any form of a recipe.
Let’s talk about salad dressings: they can be tricky. The fact is, without reading the label and checking the serving size, it’s hard to know how many carbs, fat, salt and sugar are in any of the bottled dressing. A delicious dressing can be made in a flash, usually for less money than it would cost in the supermarket. Better still, you can control exactly what goes into it.
Many recipes call for three parts oil to one part vinegar. This is something to play with yourself. Lots of people don’t like that much oil. One person in the Glucocil office makes her salad dressing with a two to one ratio and, when watching her weight, changes it to equal parts oil, water and vinegar. It really all depends on your taste. While many websites can give you recipes, Martha Stewarts’ site is a go-to of ours. We do cut down the oil to acid ratio, but we like her suggestions for add-ins. We would be remiss to tell you about our coworker’s favorite salad dressing and not give you the recipe. She uses this as a condiment on a lot of foods outside of salads.
Simple, Light Salad Dressing
2 oz extra virgin olive oil (a flavorful one meant for dipping)
2 oz water (substituted for two additional ounces of oil)
2 oz balsamic vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp Truvia (substituted for sugar)
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Nutritional info: two tbsp serving: 34 cals, 3.8 g fat, .5 g carbs, .4 g sugar
When you listen to the people who say you should use a three to one ratio of oil to vinegar, the same recipe, with the same serving size, has 77 calories and 8.9 grams of fat. That’s quite a significant difference. And yet, she swears no one thinks it’s a low-calorie version when having it.
Veggies & Fruit
The components of that slightly lackluster tossed salad we mentioned earlier are great. But they need some help. Take a look around your produce department. There are different peppers, avocados, beets, mushrooms, corn and so much more. Even the staples can be traded, regular tomatoes for cherry tomatoes or heirlooms or swap an everyday cucumber for an English/seedless cucumber. Venture farther into the grocery store, and you’ll find jarred artichoke hearts, olives, pickles and more that can be added to make a salad great!
Another great thing from the produce section is fruit. While most of us have had apple, strawberries or slices of orange in a salad, you can get creative with fruit add-ins. For instance, a salad made with watermelon, arugula, and feta is surprisingly good. But we did cut the pepper out of the dressing. Add some grilled chicken and you have a great light meal! We also enjoy this Spinach Fruit Salad, but think it would be better in the summer rather than on a chilly night. Dried fruit, like cranberries and raisins, can add a hint of sweetness to make the savory flavors pop. But, as we have said before, be cautious with dried fruit.
We mentioned chicken before, and there is a vast world of protein, both animal and vegetable. Meats, cheeses, eggs and fish are a great source of protein, making your salad become the centerpiece of your meal instead of a side. Protein can help a meal keep you full longer and, psychologically, many people feel a meal isn’t complete without protein. There’s such a wide variety of cheeses, ways to prepare eggs and different cuts of meat that you can get a lot of different combinations! But, if you avoid meat, eggs or dairy, there are many other options. Adding beans, nuts, tofu or seeds is a great way to get protein and verity into a salad!
Everyone is a fan of a little bit of crunch. However, crunchie bits on salad have a tendency to be the least nutritious part. Croutons, wonton strips, crispy fried onions, bits of bacon, broken tortilla all bring a great texture to your meal but also quite a bit of salt and calories. The vast assortment of tops you can find in the supermarket is surprising. McCormick even makes a product called Salad Toppins. As great as they are, you should use toppings sparingly as they can turn your meal from delicious and healthy to a delicious Trojan horse for calories. As well as keeping your serving size low, you can make bacon healthier by cooking it yourself. By baking, you can remove much more fat than frying. By using a small amount of toppings, or by using seeds in their place, you can keep your salad light while getting the variation of texture.
When you eat the same salad repeatedly, it can become boring even with delicious components, but with this wide variety of options, you could eat a different salad every night! Let us know if you like salads in the winter by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.